Killing it on Instagram Stories—and Having Fun While Doing It


Three weeks ahead of Portland Made’s September meetup, co-facilitators Rowan Bradley and RaShaunda Brooks met with almost two dozen of our favorite makers to share tips and tricks for harnessing the power of Instagram Stories as a tool to communicate with customers. On September 28, the greater maker community gathered at General Assembly to hear Bradley report out on the workshop.

Bradley handles digital marketing, photography, and social media for Scout Books, and his background in photography led him to help develop Gript, a tripod adapter and hand grip for smartphones. Basically, he has been both marketer and maker, which makes him an incredible resource. 

Kicking off the evening, one of the owners of General Assembly, Christina Davis, gave us a warm welcome. Davis could barely contain her excitement about having people in the building, noting that wouldn’t have been possible even two hours ahead of the event. Despite the facility not even officially being open, Davis said that all but seven spaces were already claimed, which isn’t all that surprising when you consider what the space offers—an affordable, bikeable space in the city limits.

Bradley began his presentation by asking how many people have started checking Instagram Stories and exited out without scrolling through the photo feed. The number of people who raised their hands proved two things right away: First, Stories could probably function as its own platform; and second, you really should be using it to maximize your reach.


So, do you need a ton of budget-busting, high-tech gear to start? Bradley pointed out a few key items that might help out (including a smartphone mount), but none of them were too costly or extravagant. He also recommended a few apps, like Spark Camera, a supplemental editing tool.

Also, to maximize the quality of your stories and photos, Bradley suggests using the camera app instead of Instagram when capturing images: Instagram actually grabs stills from video as opposed to higher-res images, which is why those first takes often look a little gritty.

The most important element to consider, he stressed, is the subject matter. Thinking about what kind of content you would want to see will yield more compelling, genuine stories for your target audience. Think of your product as a character, show empathy for your customer, and don’t be too precious about your content.

Bradley finished his presentation with a few examples, both from the workshop earlier in the month, and from other successful brand campaigns, including the below standout from Hipcamp (that sound editing, tho!).

After Bradley took a couple of questions from the audience, the owners of General Assembly invited us on a tour of their new home, and several stayed well past the structured portion of the evening to network with fellow makers and talk with Bradley.

If you’re interested in learning more about Instagram Stories and want to get updates on a future workshop, sign up here.

At the October meetup, we’ll be at DIY Bar, where a panel of wholesale buyers will give us their tips for selling your brand to retailers—don’t miss out!


Words by Katey Trnka

Photography by Sarah Toor